Wreaths Across America receives no government funding to support operations. Motivated and dedicated patriots across the country and at locations overseas power the Maine-based nonprofit organization. The mission to remember, honor, and teach is carried out daily by millions of citizens who care deeply for those who have served our nation in the armed forces, and their families. Some of these remarkable individuals are veterans themselves or come from military families while others are driven by a deep sense of patriotism and community service.
Placing fresh, hand-made balsam remembrance wreaths on the headstones of veterans across the country in December requires tremendous logistics and unyielding support from the trucking industry.
Wreaths Across America shows its gratitude and appreciation for all those involved in transporting America's respect with "Trucking Tributes." These stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.
When Al Schneider sold the family car and bought a truck 82 years ago, he turned to his fellow National Guard unit members as the company's first employees. The initial talent growth for the organization was through military connections.
In the late 60's, Al's son Don started to move the company forward. Don served in the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer before earning his Master's degree and becoming Schneider's CEO.
This historical information on Schneider's veterans hiring practices comes from military veteran Rob Reich Jr. who is Schneider's Senior Vice President of Equipment, Maintenance, and Driver Development. Rob joined Schneider almost 25 years ago directly out of the military. He is "the son of a signal operator" and followed in the footsteps of his father upon graduating from the ROTC program at Penn State in 1989. Rob went on to serve our nation during Operation Desert Storm as a platoon leader with the 13th Signal Battallion of the 1st Cavalry Division. Rob's father, Robert Reich Sr. retired as a U.S. Army Colonel.
"There are a lot of similarities between the military and the trucking industry," Rob explains. "I think that's why you see a lot of veterans be successful as truck drivers because they're used to that independence that comes as part of the job and that you learn in the military to take charge of situations and make decisions. I think there's also that lifestyle element of being away from home and leaving families members behind for periods of time."
Rob says It's not just the drivers either. "We see it in maintenance as well. When you walk into a Schneider parts room, and you're a veteran you'd feel at home because it's run very much like a military parts room."
Rob says Schneider is a long-time supporter of the Wreaths Across America mission and they've developed the "Ride of Pride" tractor in conjunction with Freightliner.
"Freightliner does such a nice job with these tractors," Rob says. "Every year we're so excited and say this is the best one yet!"
Every year, Schneider selects a veteran to promote both the military and Schneider as the Ride of Pride truck driver who hauls remembrance wreaths into Arlington National Cemetery.
"We go through an interview process, and it's always such a tough decision," Rob explains. "This year's Ride of Pride driver is David Price, who after 9-11 and at the age of 38 joined the Navy and served 14 years in the Navy Seabees. I know he's excited about participating with Wreaths Across America."
Thank you, David, Rob and the entire Schneider team for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
You can hear more from Rob and our other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern Monday-Friday.
Wreaths Across America announced that its Executive Director Karen Worcester and Founder Morrill Worcester were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award, the highest award the Society can bestow to an individual.
I was a Navy spouse for 12 years and during that time we lost over two dozen of our closest friends. Most of whom are buried at Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
Photo Contest Winners Announced
Wreaths Across America chose the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, KY, from March 22-24 to debut its newly designed Traveling Education Exhibit. This 48-foot display trailer hooked to its Chevy truck was loaded with many “hands on” technology and interactive information about the program to help visitors learn about the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Wayne Hanson was honored to be one of the Wreaths Across America team accompanying the exhibit, where one of the more memorable things he had the pleasure of doing was to say two words to some of those present…”Welcome Home!”
As the only fully-integrated recycling provider in Central Texas, TDS joined in the effort to remember, honor and teach by donating their services.
All of the 30 Medal of Honor Recipients in attendance during the four days of events were glad to have a chance to meet Morrill and Karen.
The goal of the S.W.A.T. training is to create a core "support group" for location and fundraising volunteers with more experienced leaders joining the ranks every year.
"If you're an American, you're proud to do it. I know it's probably one of the best things I've done every year."
Mission Matters with Karen Worcester is a new program heard only on Wednesdays on Wreaths Across America Radio. Here's the schedule of the shows coming up and a link to the station.
Anyone who really knows me knows that I am often a walking Wreaths Across America billboard. They will normally see me sporting a WAA-branded sweatshirt or t-shirt, my blue and green WAA wristband and my ever-present WAA baseball cap. I’m proud of my connection with WAA and love to promote what we do and why we do it.
That being said, I want to relate a recent encounter I had while standing in line at our local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office the other day.
Air Force Veteran*, Wayne Merritt, currently manages the Veterans Transportation Program based out of Wreaths Across America Headquarters in Maine. Monday thru Friday, Wayne travels to area towns in the Downeast region to pick up veterans and bring them to their doctors’ appointments. This is just one of the many free programs Wreaths Across America offers to veterans and their families.
Military children worry about their parent’s safety very day. These children face many challenges, frequent moves and lengthy separation due to trainings and deployments. They take on more responsibilities and worry about their parent every day.
"I really don't see it stopping, and we want people to tell us where they see it. Take pictures and videos when you check it out and share them with us on social media."
Debbie says she and the transportation team are excited about new and more efficient systems that will be in place for 2018 and beyond.
To come up with an accurate wreath count for sponsorships, great effort was taken to assure no one was forgotten.
As we approached, Morrill and I began to realize that here laid the body of a very important veteran that we had apparently overlooked for the past 26 years in our annual wreath placement.
The many stops along the way at schools, veterans organizations, police and fire stations were also overflowing with love and good wishes.
I want my daughter to grow up understanding what true heroes are and the sacrifices that have been made for us to live in a free country.
Complete strangers just moments before, together, Denny and Ella read the name on her grandfather's headstone and talked some about him while laying his wreath.
"When she explained to us what Wreaths Across America is and does, it was a no-brainer for me that we would get involved."
On behalf of her father Rod, Cindi shared her grandfather's words with the audience during the memorial service. You can hear her presentation and see other highlights from the service in this video.
These two quiet and humble individuals are a team dedicated to giving back to their nation. They educate others by sharing their experiences and lessons of love and sacrifice not just from the war but the other "battlefields of life."
To better serve our volunteers in 2018 and beyond, we're reorganizing and providing more tools to support their inspiring efforts.
"I witnessed a few of the boys laying an "in honor of" wreath. They did it with reverence."
Guided by an infrangible faith when the supply of lifejackets ran out they gave up their own to save the lives of others.
"I went up to that hill and looked at all of those graves of my colleagues who have gone before me.
Volunteers planning to assist in removing wreaths are asked to attend a short briefing at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. and to follow these guidelines.
As witnessed through this video, the volunteer commitment of patriotic citizens is a year-round effort that culminates in a remarkable day of unity, friendship, and healing.
Some give the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one and are often left in sorrow to wonder if other citizens remember or appreciate what they gave up for liberty and justice for all.
Wreaths Across America knows some of the finest musicians out there are members of our military performance groups. Each month, we like to feature the musical works of those talented individuals.